I love the verb “to rise”. It harbours such an Easter, springlike connotation. Unless it’s used in the context of Richard trying to get a rise out of me, (which he likes to do multiple times in a day) this is also a beautiful NOUN, especially when used in conjunction with words like “Sunrise” or “Moonrise”. Aren’t those lovely and romantic words?
When I stepped into the mysterious gloaming Monday night, after yet another dance rehearsal at the little New Denmark rec centre with ‘the tiara club’ (see last week’s post), the moon was just poking out over the tree line. As I drove the three miles home, the so-called “Pink Moon” (named after pink flowers called wild ground phlox, which bloom in early spring, the ‘pink moon’ is the first full moon of springtime in the Northern Hemisphere) rose very quickly in the sky, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it the whole way home. Good thing our road is so quiet there wasn’t another car on it!
We are down to less than 40 percent of the snow we’ve had all winter, now, thanks to a few good rainfalls and one day of actual double digits -with sun! We now hear some songbirds, not just crows. And, this morning, as I sat eating my homemade pancakes with our own fresh maple syrup from weeks of Richard’s toil’n’boil, I had to open the top of the Dutch door that Richard made last fall (see posting from Sept. 16th entitled The Dutch Door Diva, if you missed the construction of this beloved kitchen feature) and listen to the ‘rise’ and swell of jubilant bird song in the air.
As I bake bread, nearly every 2nd day, the word “Rise” is especially important to me. I’ve discovered that, as I’d once thought in my 20s when I used to regularly bake bread, the amount of rise is NOT as important, especially if you like to eat toast and sandwiches as we do. You don’t have to ‘cater’ to the yeast as much as you might think, although it SHOULD be warm water it dissolves in, and a sprinkling of sugar will help excite it further! But if the bread rises TOO much over the loaf pans, you’ll not be able to cut it as easily, nor to fit it into the toaster! Thus, I try for a good ‘first’ rise, and just a quick one after the initial punch-down. (Of course this also depends on the amount of white/vs.wholewheat flour I’m using. This past week I ran out of white, and as Richard and I hate JUST plain whole wheat, I zested the bread up with some cardamon, parsley, thyme and oregano. I didn’t put it in a loaf pan, either, just made it in a circle on the baking sheet and let it rise a bit there. Try it, it was fabulous!) As the sale at the rec centre last Saturday morning was my (Rustic Revivals’) first one in this province, I made a lot of Easter-oriented and spring items. And one of the ones of which I’m most proud is the following cushion which I stitched by hand from a flour sack. I then stencilled a double meaning on to the thick linen, so that it could be for general use, or as a special Easter gift. It didn’t sell at the sale, so I can enjoy it further, I guess.
For readers in Ontario, there is a wonderful group around the Toronto area called “R.I.S.E.” which a few theatre-grad friends of mine have volunteered with in the past: “Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (RISE) is a community led by youth, comprised of artists, activists, free-thinkers and revolutionaries. Together, they help to create a safe and welcoming platform for self-expression and healing through the performance arts.” This is, of course, ‘right up my alley’ – but since I’m now living out here in ‘boonesville’, where my heart is, I am trying to do what I can. As discussed last week when revealing the small amount of young people’s performance art (ie: “The Tiara Club”) that I’m working with here in this small rural community, the sense of being close to nature and the “rustique” of our agricultural history is important here, and that’s one of the things I love about being in the mountains. Local photographer Tiffany Christensen blends my two passions frequently in her work. Nature and Rustic. Love it!
As presented in last week’s blog …”Purty Pals and Gingham Gals”, Tiffany will ‘rise’ to any occasion and is being especially helpful as we move forward to the Founder’s Day celebrations this year here in this peaceful valley. And her last name, while being both indicative of the many Danish names in the community AND the true meaning of Easter is a happy circumstance at the time of this writing. “Risen” is even there in her name!
The above is the 3rd tobacco slat cross I’ve made from the weathered sticks I was offered from my Ontario cousins, Pete and Linda Baxter, when they were moving from their own farm. I am so pleased Richard agreed to let me bring so much of this wood with us out here, and two of these crosses have now fittingly, I think, gone to Reverend Diane of Carlisle, ON and Pastor Ralph, of New Denmark, N.B.
Of course when you mention “Easter” and “Rise” in the same sentence, it isn’t always a positive thing. Christ died for our sins, true, and then rose to live forever in us, for us. But sometimes, sadly, it is just about death. Period. As we do not have television here, we enjoy a wonderful BBC feed through various online sources, which we then project to Richard’s large screen. One of my favourite British serials is Lark RISE to Candleford. If you haven’t seen it, but are a fan of period costume drama, find a way to view the whole series. (available at many libraries, and also, in part, online – or you could buy the box set!) However, I have recently become enamored with the u.k. version (original one!) of “Who Do You Think You Are”? I do NOT consider this a ‘reality show’, so please don’t suggest it is! I find it a stimulating way to learn history. Watching it led to the revealing of several of our favourite Irish performers’ ancestors such as Brendan O’Carroll (the hilarious Mrs. Brown of ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys) being involved in the Easter Risings of 1916, and I was thus motivated to read and study more about that particular unrest. Yeats’ poem “Easter: 1916” ends so solemnly, despite the green of the Emerald Isle and the new spring: “Now and in time to be, Wherever green is worn, Are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born”.
Then, this week of course was yet another 100th anniversary – that of Vimy Ridge, which also took place originally over Easter weekend. Mom/Joy was especially interested in this as her great-uncle died there, and I was pleased that CBC did a live stream which she could also enjoy from her laptop computer. So, Easter is about rising, but also about the fallen. However, just as the Canadians were important ‘rising’ to the top of Vimy Ridge a century ago, so are our Canadians poignant in their passion for standing up for what is right in all things crucial to the survival of man-kind:
(Rise up, Rise up) Oh rise and show your power, (Rise up, Rise up) We're dancing into the sun (Rise up, Rise up) It's time for celebration (Rise up, Rise up) Spirits' time has come... ...Talkin 'bout the right time to be workin' for peace, Wantin' all the tension in the world to ease. - by Canadian band, Parachute Club
And, we couldn’t really have an Easter show without SOME semblance of bunnies, chicks and lambs, so here they are:
While all of the above are made entirely from salvage items, scraps or from nature itself, I AM proud that they are newly-made or upcycled for this year’s ‘spring’, despite having many other spring items (even MADE from rusty springs from a sleigh’s old seat, for instance!) and including fishing and canoeing-themed items, gardening items, etc. All ‘springy’. But, when examining again the true meaning of Easter, I was happy to put a little folk-art New Denmark scene with the two landmark churches on top of the next hill-top. Both churches have crosses on top of them in real life, and both have them painted on as well. This was done on a small cutting board of Mom/Joy’s that she wanted to dispose of. This is only half the board:
This scene depicts the ploughing, planting and cheerful green-growth that happens around the farms in the early spring. As you may have read in my post “Blue Belldon Basement Grow Op.” several weeks ago, things were planted down there that are now beginning to ‘rise’ as well!
And also, chosen to add cheeriness to my kitchen window, and almost perpetually NOT blooming, even my red geranium has decided to ‘rise’ to the occasion of SPRING!
Thus, as my father used to joyously quote (in an Ogden Nash burst of silliness, though it is NOT written by that poet) :
"Spring is Sprung, The grass is RIZ - I wonder where The birdies is? " or, of a less silly subject matter, is George Herbert's "Easter".
Rise heart: thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.
Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.
Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.
I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.
The sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.
Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.
A coffee can I decorated for Spring, with neighbours’ hydrangea flowers dried inside. To left are two of the tobacco slat crosses and two right, another popular cross around here – the New Denmark flag painted on a light switch plate. Both left and right sold, the coffee can remains as 1 in a set of Primitive Three. HAPPY EASTER!
One of six shabby chic frames I distressed and crackled for the Easter show. Some are peg-boards with chicken wire, but sold two of these blackboards. Happy Easter! R I S E !!!!